You can’t win a rigged game

gang-of-8

I had the opportunity very recently to have an extended conversation with a young gentleman who officially became a U.S. citizen just over a month ago. He claimed that he had always felt he “belonged here, ” took the first opportunity to come to the U.S. presented to him and “never looked back.” He worked all sorts of jobs, traveled all over the country and met people from every socioeconomic sector and demographic.

Coming from a country where the citizens have substantially less opportunity than in America and a more or less homogenous population, there were many things he still found strange about the U.S., even after having been here for more than 10 years. We talked about a multitude of subjects, from nationalized health care to race relations. He said that he often pondered certain inconsistencies, like why so many Americans harbor antipathy for their own country, why so many don’t vote and why young black celebrities are so angry being but a few. Like many naturalized immigrants I have encountered, his was more intense curiosity than judgment.

Describing his swearing-in ceremony, he could not have been prouder. The account of his thoughts and feelings as he and his fellow new citizens pledged allegiance to the flag and sang the National Anthem was nothing less than spiritual. “Something changed in my heart,” he said more than once. He related suddenly feeling part of something great and finally connected to all of the people who had gone before him to contribute to the success of this nation – and how America’s history of immigration played a big part in that.